Plastics Business Fall 2013
Strategies for Todayâ€™s Plastics Processors
MAPP Conference Asks:
Did You Push Play?
Rapid Growth at Xten Industries Cleanroom Design Considerations Processors Advocate for Marketing
Official Publication of Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors
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Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors
features profile Rapid Growth, Rapid Change at Xten Industries ....................................8 review MAPP Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference: Did You PUSH PLAY? ............................................................................ 16 focus Robotics in Plastics Processing ........................................................... 20 The Truth About Robotics: Impact of Robotics on Employment ........... 22 solutions Cleanroom Considerations ................................................................ 26
departments director’s letter ..................6 association .......................14 product ............................38 advertisers .......................46
strategies Marketing: The New Frontier ............................................................... 32 production The View from 30 Feet: Business Networking on LinkedIn ................... 40 management In-Mold Label Market Study Assesses Industry ................................... 42
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True Leaders Focus on Igniting the Fire from Within It never ceases to amaze me what the power of the human will can accomplish. Recently, I watched the NFL football match-up between my hometown favorite, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Houston Texans. The 18-point deficit at halftime made many Colts fans a bit squeamish, but I’m one that feels there’s always hope. The second half reinforced my optimistic viewpoint as the Colts overcame the deficit, ultimately winning 27-24 over the seasoned Texans. With one of the most exciting endings in football that I’ve seen, the game demonstrated the power of the will to win. It showed the power of a team of professionals striving for one objective, even when the odds were against them. I tell this story because of its strong relevance to MAPP’s Annual Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference, recently held in Indianapolis. At the 13th consecutive event, 400 industry executives came together to improve, create better business strategies and better their chances of winning. The human will to advance knowledge bases, find new ideas and discover innovative ways to create efficiencies was present in this conference like never before! The games of life and business are much like the football game I watched – you win some, and you lose some. However, for extremely successful business professionals (those who win more than they lose), one important characteristic is extremely obvious. Successful people have a tendency to invest in themselves and the people that surround them. Ray Griffin, an inspiring minister, once said, “You can either light a fire underneath people, or you can light a fire within them!” For those executives attending the conference with their teams, the strategy was clear. Examination of feedback from the conference demonstrates that the vast majority of manufacturing professionals left the event with a renewed sense of urgency, focus and vigor. Filled with a “can do” spirit, attendees were inspired by professional speakers, obtained new ideas from networking exchanges and were motivated by their own industry peers who took time to share stories of successes and failures. Since the benchmarking conference, the MAPP office has received dozens of emails and phone calls from attendees describing how the event positively impacted them. In fact, many attendees already have implemented substantial changes in order to improve how they lead, manage and grow their competitive advantages in the marketplace. To hold one another accountable for taking positive actions, a group of MAPP Members has started an email exchange updating each other on the actions they have taken to improve their own companies. What readers must understand is that these actions predominately have been driven not by owners and presidents and general managers, but by staff-level professionals who have been ignited from within to make a substantial difference in the companies that employ them. The amazing power of the human will makes truly anything possible! I challenge you to examine your leadership responsibilities and test your management method. Are you lighting the fire from within or just putting more wood to burn at the feet of your employees?
Troy Nix, Executive Director
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Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors, Inc. (MAPP) 7321 Shadeland Station Way, Suite 285 Indianapolis, IN 46256 phone 317.913.2440 • fax 317.913.2445 www.mappinc.com MAPP Board of Directors President Kelly Goodsel, Viking Plastics President-Elect Mike Walter, MET Plastics, Inc. Bill Bartlett, First American Plastics/Quad, Inc. Tom Boyd, Blow Molded Specialties Dan Cunningham, Parish Manufacturing Norm Forest, Dymotek Molding Technologies Matt Groleau, RJG, Inc. Lindsey Hahn, Metro Plastics Technologies Laurie Harbour, Harbour Results, Inc. Ben Harp, Polymer Conversions, Inc. Bob Holbrook, Viking Plastics James Krause, Microplastics, Inc. John Passanisi, PRD, Inc. Eric Paules, Crescent Industries Jeff Randa, PolyOne Distribution Alan Rothenbuecher, ICE Miller LLP Scott Titzer, Infinity CleanRoom Solutions Rick Walters, DeKalb Molded Plastics Roger Williams, Royer Corp.
Strategies for Today’s Plastics Processors
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Rapid GRowth, Rapid ChanGe at I
n 18 months, Xten Industries has grown from 80 employees to more than 300. One facility has become two, in locations that are 85 miles apart. The president of the company laughingly called the growth “traumatic.” And yet, Xten Industries is on firm ground as it embraces a concept called Multifacturing™ and prepares to serve the injection molding industry in an entirely new way.
Strong roots provide basis for upward growth
In the late ’90s, a corporate takeover in the paper packaging industry left coworkers Matthew Davidson and William Renick searching for a different, more progressive business venture. According to Davidson, CEO of Xten Industries, “That opportunity surfaced after an 18-month search when we found Hauser Plas Tech, a 60-year-old Chicago-based injection molding company.”
In 18 months, Xten Industries has grown from 80 employees to more than 300. Now with two locations, the injection molder champions the concept of Multifacturing™ to meet the needs of its customers. by Dianna Brodine
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Originally founded in 1940 as a mold manufacturer, Hauser Plas Tech initially incorporated injection molding to meet customer demand for rapid prototyping. Continuing on this trend, the company added plastics decorating capabilities in the early 1950s and in-mold decorating (IMD) technology in the 1960s. Hauser Plas Tech’s business philosophies coupled with its strong expertise in tooling, molding and decorating made it an attractive match. “We shared the same vision in regards to service and the true definition of value to the customer,” stated Davidson. Thus, in 2000, Davidson, Renick and Hauser formed the strategic alliance of Xten Industries. In 2001, Xten acquired Priority Tool and Manufacturing Company in Kenosha, WI, and in 2002, made the aggressive move to relocate both the former Hauser Plas Tech facility and Priority Tool and Manufacturing Company into one facility.
Just over the Wisconsin border, located halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, the Kenosha plant is ISO-certified and serves industries from medical to consumer goods. In May of 2012, Xten expanded again with the purchase of Paramount Plastics, LLC in Lockport, IL. Now known as Xten-Lockport, the facility primarily serves the automotive industry and is TS-certified. Today, Xten Industries is led by Davidson and Renick, who serves as president. “We now have 30 injection molding machines in Kenosha and 26 in Lockport,” Renick explained. “Kenosha’s presses range from 80 tons to 900 tons, and the presses go from 80 tons to 2,000 tons in Lockport.” Automation is a key to productivity in both facilities, where computer-controlled processing, robotic handling and overhead crane systems assist in keeping production on track. In addition, work cells have been configured to ensure the company’s Multifacturing approach operates at maximum efficiency.
Multifacturing is a multi-faceted approach
Multifacturing is a catchphrase developed in January 2011 to describe the value-added processes that Xten performs for its customers. “I think it’s a good description of what we’ve always done,” Davidson said. “It’s how Xten has built
its business. We take the burden off our customers by going beyond injection molding.” As an example, Davidson explained, instead of shipping a component the customer then would need to assemble and package, Xten becomes an extension of the customer’s facility. “We purchase the packaging, the instruction sheets, the metal components – whatever is required. We actually take on the customers’ vendors as Xten vendors, and our customers receive a single finished piece price.” For some customers, Xten manufactures the assembled part and drop ships it directly to retail stores. “I think of it as contract manufacturing instead of contract molding,” Renick said. Davidson admits that the Multifacturing concept can be challenging. “Taking over a vendor and managing that relationship has turned out to be one of the major issues we’ve faced,” Davidson explained. “We need to have a vendor base that understands just-in-time, and it’s taken a while to figure out which vendors get it and which do not.” Renick added that having all of the components on hand at the beginning of the molding cycle is key to the success of the process. “At first, our customers did the ordering, and we were constantly delaying the run because we page 10 u
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profile Think marketing your company poses a challenge?
t page 9 were waiting for components or labels or special boxes.” Now that Xten has assumed the responsibility for purchasing the necessary components, scheduling has been simplified.
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“As it turns out, it’s a scheduling nightmare,” Davidson laughed, “because we’re scheduling multiple machines to run components for the same job. Our average run time is less than 36 hours, so to get three to four machines running close to the same item takes a lot of coordination. The buying and purchasing functions were substantially upgraded, and a well-run shipping department became a logistic necessity.
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At Xten, Multifacturing not only simplifies production for its customers, but also provides tangible benefits to the molder as well. “By implementing Multifacturing, we’re so deeply ingrained in the customer’s production process that we become a part of them,” Davidson explained. “To me, that’s what Multifacturing is about.” Davidson pointed to a customer base at the Kenosha facility in which 75 percent are utilizing the Multifacturing production concept. “It changes the nature of the business,” he said. “The Kenosha customers are looking for a full-service partner, and they understand the value we bring to their own operations.” Initially, Renick and Davidson weren’t sure if the Multifacturing concept would work within the Lockport facility. As a very focused automotive and engineered resin plant making extremely large parts, the customers at the Lockport plant tend to be Fortune 500 companies spec’ing out a component. However, even the larger customers slowly are discovering that while Xten is making a part, there’s time available while the next part is in process. An operator or automation can do two to three other operations during that process time, which means Xten can deliver a more complete product to the customer. “We’re making inroads,” said Davidson. “In my mind, it’s verification of the concept, because even big companies that have mapped out their costs pretty well are seeing opportunities to work with a vendor like us.”
Xten-sive decorating and assembly capabilities Mergers & Acquisitions
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The Multifacturing concept demands a breadth of services. From manual assembly to high-speed, automated assembly and subassembly services to extensive welding and bonding capabilities (ultrasonic welding, solvent welding, spin welding, heat staking and riveting), Xten employees are experts at component assembly. The impressive array of services extends to decorating processes, where in-mold
Davidson pointed to the medical waste products molded by Xten as the perfect example. “Sharps containers are supposed to last for 20 years, and you can’t put a paper label on those things and expect it to last. For those items, inmold labeling was the perfect way to go.”
Assembly processes, whether manual or automated, are a key component of Xten’s Multifacturing™ approach.
decorating, pad printing, heat transfer, foil stamping and labeling are available. One of the fastest growing decorating segments at Xten is in-mold decoration. This process allows precise placement of small labels or the use of labels that wrap 360 degrees around the part. Now on its third generation of automation and machinery, the process virtually is flawless. “We keep ourselves abreast of innovations in this field and feel that IMD should be considered a more efficient, flexible and creative way to decorate, not to mention cut down on waste,” Renick explained. Xten is seeing significant growth in in-mold decorating at the Kenosha facility, and the process has been introduced to the Lockport facility as well. “We’ve been doing this for 10 years,” said Davidson, “and the in-mold work that we originally did was primarily for durability, not cosmetics.”
Now, however, Xten is seeing growth in inmold decorating as the process replaces other decorating types. “Our customers recognize the consistency, vibrant colors and durability throughout the life of the product that is offered by in-mold. We’re using in-mold decorating in many places where we would have done pad printing or added a sticker before.”
Xten also has honed its own capabilities by increasing the use of robotics to add in-mold capabilities on more machines. “To do in-mold decorating on any scale really does require automation and a robot,” said Davidson. “We have a number of instances where we started off with an operator doing it by hand, but the automation quickly pays for itself if there’s any volume.”
Investing in marketing
With such a range of services and a unique manufacturing concept to promote, Xten Industries has invested in another key division of the company – marketing. “When we moved into our brand new facility in Kenosha and lost 30 percent of our business due to 9/11, we were grasping at straws to figure out how to keep the lights on,” said Renick. “We moved to Kenosha for the extra capacity, but no one knew us here. We needed to market ourselves to fill up our plant.” page 12 u
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profile t page 11 At the time, Xten had no funds available to hire salespeople, so Davidson and Renick decided to use marketing as a way to get the Xten name out to potential customers. Now, it’s a part of the culture, and Xten still has no inside sales staff. “We love talking about ourselves, and we love talking about manufacturing in America,” Davidson explained. “I always wanted to be in the position where potential customers would be seeking us out, but never before in my working career had that occurred. It is now, and it’s neat.” Xten has a full-time marketing, communication and engagement manager. Kendra Buchanan is responsible for maintaining accounts on a variety of social media platforms from Facebook to Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as maintaining an active and interactive website. “There were a lot of molders who didn’t survive the economic downturn,” said Buchanan, “and I believe part of our success is that we’ve kept our voice out there for our customers and prospects.” “I can’t put my finger on any specific customers that we’ve gotten because of social media,” Davidson admitted, “but I know from the online dialogues that are going back and forth that people are thinking about us.” Davidson firmly believes in the power of the marketing ‘touch’. “It’s another way to
Medical waste products are molded at the Kenosha facility.
get potential customers to pick up the phone. It’s another means to get information out. We’re trying to pull customers in rather than going out to try to catch them.”
Learning to Grow
The purchase of the Lockport facility in May 2012 brought about 18 months of rapid growth for Xten, and growing pains have been part of the process. “We obtained the Lockport facility to expand into new areas,” Buchanan said, “and we very quickly outgrew what we thought would be the answer to our space needs.” Ten new presses have been added, five at both the Lockport and Kenosha plants, and job creation has been stunning. At the time of the acquisition, the Kenosha facility had 90 employees Xten facilities are highly automated with computer-controlled processing, robotic handling and overhead crane systems.
12 | plastics business • fall 2013
and there were 65 employees in Lockport. Now, there are 150 employees at each facility. In 2011, Xten Industries was near $20 million in annual sales and this year, the company expects to be around $55 million.
to handle a two-facility structure,” said Davidson. “When you go from five days a week in one facility to two facilities running seven days a week, the systems, structures, training programs – everything that worked before – needs to be reviewed and relearned.”
Renick conceded that the changes were fairly traumatic, although not because of the acquisition itself or the combining of cultures. “Our big issue was shoe-horning a brand-new large customer into each of the facilities,” he explained. “We had to bring in a lot of new people and get them up to speed quickly. It was a challenge, and it’s not the people we’ve been hiring who are at fault.”
Xten Industries is willing to do what it takes to make its customers successful. “It doesn’t matter if it’s just a plastic part or if it’s fulfillment,” said Davidson. “We’re here to help our customers solve their problems, and we really, really mean that. We’ll go to great lengths to find ways to work together.”
A lack of formal training procedures posed a critical challenge. “Our turnover was horrendous because our training programs were horrendous,” Davidson exclaimed. “We weren’t adept at even introducing new operators to what they were supposed to do at their machines, let alone introducing new quality people or sales support to their roles. We thought we were prepared, but we were mistaken.”
Davidson explained that Xten’s development of the Multifacturing approach has been organic and admits that the route the company has taken to grow its business could not have been charted. “Our customers have taken us to these new areas,” he said. “We never say ‘no’, and we’re willing to take on anything.” It’s an approach that the customers of Xten Industries – whether in Kenosha or Lockport – appreciate. n
Xten quickly realized its oversight and enlisted support in each facility by hiring two different staffing agencies. Potential employees then were screened through extensive background checks, an e-verify check and a drug screen before earning a place as a temporary worker. “We now work with that employee for 30-90 days before we make an offer for them to join the company as an Xten employee,” said Renick. “We also learned to document tasks so that each job is reproducible in our two different facilities. There’s been a great deal of revision to existing documents, but we now put much greater stock in that documentation and hold our people accountable to keeping that documentation current,” he said. The company has earned training assistance from the state of Wisconsin as well. “We won state grants for 2012 and 2013 for training totaling close to $80,000,” explained Buchanan. The Kenosha facility training has focused primarily on lean manufacturing and leadership initiatives, along with safety training. “We’re beginning the process to bring the same sort of training to the Lockport facility.”
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With the Kenosha facility at 75-80 percent capacity and Lockport near 65 percent, Xten Industries is looking for new growth with its existing customers in both facilities. “We’ve jumped to a new plateau, and I’m hoping for a gentle incline for a couple of years while we digest and improve our systems
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MAPP Hits Record Numbers at Recent Benchmarking Conference MAPP recently held the annual Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, IN, on October 17-18. This annual conference drew over 400 key executives, representing 181 plastics and rubber companies from across the United States, to convene at the nation’s largest processor-focused event! The conference schedule included ways to improve on best practices, leading-edge benchmarks, expert presentations and the best networking opportunities in the industry. New this year was a mobile app that connected attendees even before the event. With the theme of PUSH PLAY, attendees heard from companies and speakers that actively PUSH PLAY in the pursuit of innovation, technology, employee development, sales management and operational excellence. These companies consistently reach for greatness, and attendees were tasked to do the same in their companies and lives. Kelly Goodsel, Viking Plastics’ president and MAPP president, already has implemented steps in his facility based on information discovered at the conference. “Staff members who attended the conference met the following Monday and reviewed our observations, takeaways and items that we wanted to implement. We reviewed our strategic plan with a view to both 2013 and 2014 to make sure our focus from the MAPP conference was in alignment with what we want to do as an organization. Then, we focused on the three areas of the business we want to improve (per the strategic plan) and set the conference takeaways into actions,” said Goodsel. Additionally, Dan Leedom, president of Poly-Cast, told the MAPP office that his office also has taken steps to implement conference content. “We’ve summarized the MAPP takeaways for all departments, reintroduced 2-Second Lean with weekly summaries for staff meetings, revisited our value proposition and more,” he explained. The most powerful professional learning and development tools can be found through exchanges between people of like interests and like responsibilities. To optimize the learning potential of conference attendees, themed Ignite Sessions enabled attendees to select from a group of business exchanges that most interested them. These in-depth sessions allowed attendees to gain new ideas, find potential resources and expand their business networks.
14 | plastics business • fall 2013
The conference was not all serious business, however, as early guests were welcomed to the networking reception at the JW Marriott overlooking Victory Field, the home of the Indianapolis Indians baseball team. Thursday evening also concluded the day’s activities with another networking reception intermixed with the sponsor exhibits to allow attendees to network with fellow executives and potential suppliers. Friday began with a new Peer-to-Peer Breakfast and Discussion, where attendees were able to share a meal with other individuals in their functional area while discussing key topics and issues. This expanded upon the usual roundtable discussions of previous years and enabled attendees in the same functional areas to exchange information about new ideas and resources used, while expanding business networks. Finally, Plante and Moran debuted its newly configured North American Plastics Industry Study at the conference. Attendees were given their own copy to peruse, while the report was touched upon for benchmarks throughout the day and a half of the conference. Those unable to attend the conference may purchase their report through the MAPP site later in the year at www.mappinc.com. The Benchmarking Conference truly has become THE processor event to attend year after year. As one conference attendee stated, “What a tremendous event! It’s the superbowl event for our industry, and you don’t want to miss it. If you haven’t attended, you need to consider investing in yourself and your team to experience the conference. You WILL learn and be better because of it!”
MAPP Breaks Membership Records in 2013 MAPP has experienced a record year in growth and retention for membership in 2013. MAPP has hit over 300 members, and the retention rate is the highest it’s ever been!
Also, this year MAPP reached a record in new memberships. As of October, MAPP welcomed 54 new members. “With the steady growth in this association on par with the rate of growth for manufacturing in the US, the future truly looks bright for manufacturing and MAPP!” said Nix.
Stay Tuned for 2014 with MAPP Mark your calendars for the 2014 Benchmarking Conference, taking place at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, IN, Oct. 1617, 2014. Members wanting a jump on registration actually can save $100 off the 2014 rate and get the early bird pricing from 2013 if they register by Dec. 31, 2013. Call 317.913.2440 for details. No cancellations will be accepted, but members can substitute individuals from the same company. In 2014, MAPP is slated to unveil new networking opportunities, conduct the Wage and Salary report (now annually), report on key benchmarking studies, grow the cost reduction programs available and provide more of the service you’ve come to expect from the MAPP network.
MAPP Celebrates 15-Year Anniversaries of LongTerm Members MAPP would like to congratulate its 15-year members! Burco Molding, Inc. Cook Polymer Technology Deflect-O Corporation DeKALB Molded Plastics First Metals & Plastics Genesis Plastics & Engineering, LLC Global Plastics
Horton Fan Systems Pioneer Plastics Pier-Mac Plastics, Inc. Plastech Corporation Screen Tech Designs Southern Indiana Plastics Van Norman Molding, LLC World Class Plastics, Inc.
These companies have maintained their membership since 1998. “Their support has been unwavering, even in the midst of several economic crises for over a decade. It is companies like these that make MAPP the successful association it is today. MAPP’s vast network expands across the United States, continuing to grow the plastics manufacturing community as a strong American industry,” explained Troy Nix, MAPP’s executive director. “We are humbled and grateful for the support of these companies over the years and look forward to their future with MAPP.” n
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review MAPP’s Annual Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference
Did You PUSH PLAY?
ring together 400 plastics processing professionals in one room. Ask them to share ideas, trade strengths, build relationships and understand through benchmarking where their company stands among its peers. Add in highly respected speakers with insights on the economy, affecting organizational change and reducing waste. Inspire the pursuit of innovation, employee development and sales management. Show how the best consistently reach for greatness. Task the plastics professionals to do the same. Ask them to PUSH PLAY! This was the 2013 MAPP Annual Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference.
Getting Buy-In on Change Garrison Wynn (www.garrisonwynn.com)
Affecting change in an organization’s culture is one of the most difficult things to accomplish because people are involved. People have their own thoughts and feelings and ways of doing things… which makes getting buy-in for organizational change a significant challenge. Garrison Wynn, the keynote speaker for the MAPP Benchmarking Conference, offered perspective on The Real Truth About Success… What the Top 1% Won’t Tell You. According to the session summary, many experts agree that trust is perhaps the most important element of a successful workplace. Company executives who gain the trust of their employees tend to have a more engaged, productive workforce and a high-efficiency work environment. Although trust is the least understood element of business success, it can be the most powerful; and a leader who lacks it ends up with zero influence. Wynn stressed that one of the greatest factors in whether or not a leader can gain trust is whether or not that leader has learned to listen. “Seventy-eight percent of us don’t listen very well,” he said. “But if a person feels like you’re listening to them… if they feel like you’ve heard what they’re saying in the first two minutes of a conversation, there’s a chemical reaction in the brain that leads them to trust you!” Furthermore, when people feel as though they’ve been heard, what you say will have double or triple the impact.
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According to Wynn, trust can be gained or lost based on the perception of the answer to a few simple questions: • Are you competent at your job? • Do you genuinely listen to what others believe their problems are? • Are you accountable? • Are you willing to look at the role you play in others’ behavior? • Are you sincere? As leaders, the first reaction to a problem or potential problem can be an instinctive, autocratic solution that does not take into account the perceptions or ideas of others in the company who might be more intimately involved in the day-to-day operation. That same response sometimes puts leaders in the position of forcing change upon a company rather than getting employees on board. Wynn put it plainly by imitating a fictional executive: “I’m right! I’m right because I’m the boss, and I said I’m right, so I’m right!” A leader who has gained the trust of those in his or her organization by proving themselves competent as leaders, listening to the concerns brought to them by staff members, being accountable for the role their own behavior might play in influencing the behavior of others and ‘being real’ has a much better chance of affecting real change over those who take the “I’m right” approach.
IGNITE Sessions Provide Interactive Information Sharing Designed to take advantage of the knowledge and experience of the association’s membership, IGNITE sessions ask those with subject area expertise to share impactful processes with other conference attendees. Twelve sessions were available on the first full day of conference programming, including discussions on employee training, sales management, waste reduction, program launches, wellness programs, process validation and maintenance solutions. Chris Sachs, general manager for Eclipse Mold, was part of the maintenance solutions IGNITE session. “My co-presenter focused on his company’s maintenance approach, and then I shared information about a maintenance tracker used in our facility,” he said. “We use cloud-based software that can be accessed through a mobile phone to track all of our assets, including our presses, robots, chillers and thermolators. We tag all of those assets with a QR code, and then use smartphones to scan that asset and log a work order based on maintenance issues that need to be resolved.”
his co-presenter’s explanation of the maintenance processes at another molding facility. “We have 36 presses with a few hundred tools that go through that same set of presses. My copresenter’s plant had more jobs that are lock-ins running 3-4 days straight. He listed out best practice maintenance activities for his facility, and I talked about a tool that helps set up those maintenance schedules. I thought it was worth sharing.” Kelly Goodsel, president of MAPP’s Board of Directors and president/owner of Viking Plastics, was a presenter in the
Sachs explained that the work order then can be emailed to maintenance staff, managers and others with a need to know, ensuring that everyone is aware when there is an issue on the floor. “Using the IGNITE presenter Kelly Goodsel speaks to an audience about what leadership software, we easily can get the right people to the means to the small or mid-sized processor. press and reduce the downtime,” he said. In addition, the software allows the company to review past work orders, IGNITE session on leadership. The session gave the perspective which can assist when planning preventative maintenance of the leadership role from a larger company (Cook Polymer’s schedules and frequencies. “That allows us to begin working David Lessard also was a presenter) focused on developing and on predictive maintenance, which is usually the Achilles heel mentoring future leaders and that of a small to medium-sized of any manufacturing plant! We’re still implementing it fully company (Viking Plastics) where leadership means taking on all assets across the floor, but the ability to communicate is calculated risks, envisioning the future and applying resources toward those future goals. “The value of the MAPP membership a big help,” he explained. is sharing and learning from each other,” said Goodsel. “And The software utilized by Eclipse Mold can be researched at the IGNITE session on leadership was a prime example of that www.maintenanceassistant.com. Sachs was happy to share opportunity, where even the presenters received takeaways his experiences with the MAPP audience and thought the based on the discussion that happened.” solution utilized by his company was a nice complement to page 18 u
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MAPP’s Annual Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference t page 17
Great Service, Great Quality… So What?!?
Using Seconds to Improve Efficiency
CJ McClanahan (www.goreachmore.com)
Paul Akers, Michael Althoff, Ashley Bailey, Greg Glebe, Kelly Goodsel and Nick Kocelj
Explaining that quoting and selling are two completely different functions, McClanahan said salespeople in an organization often believe they are doing a stellar job because “we have a lot of quotes out there right now.” But a quote is simply a collection of numbers, and without showing value – without explaining what makes the company special – there’s no differentiation from the competition. McClanahan asked the audience what made their companies special. Without waiting for an answer, he said, “Great service. Great quality.” McClanahan’s message? Figure out a way to get different. “Everyone believes their company provides great service and has great quality,” McClanahan explained. “Great service and great quality are NOT different! And if you’re not different, then you’re the same. And if you’re the same, then all you have to compete on when you’re looking for new business is price.” Competing on price rarely leads to anything good. According to McClanahan, those in sales should be asking: Is there a return for the customer to choose me over the competition? Can I quantify it? What is the risk if they don’t purchase from me? McClanahan gave an example in which he purchased an expensive watch from a store salesperson, rather than buying it for a discounted price online. While he jokingly acknowledged that some in the audience might believe he was financially unwise, McClanahan explained the salesperson successfully convinced him that if he purchased the watch online, he was at risk of making a bad decision. If he purchased online, he was taking on the risk of poor customer service in the event that something happened to the watch at a later time. He was taking on a risk that the online vendor was reputable and would deliver the watch as promised. Because he was unwilling to take the risk, McClanahan paid a higher price for the product he wanted. What’s the risk to your customers if they don’t purchase from you? By clearly articulating risk you have created value, and value trumps price.
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Lean operations expert Paul Akers led a panel to discuss high-powered change at four companies based on two-second improvements. Based on Akers’ book Two Second Lean, which was given to all MAPP conference attendees in 2012, the panel presented some of the results of their implementations. • A dirty, old factory (in the company owner’s words) became a clean shop and, in 10 months, lead times went from 15-21 days to 4-5 days. This was the result of a culture change that asked employees to focus on finding ways to make their own lives better, rather than asking them to find ways to save the company money or time. – Ashley Bailey, Klime-Ezee • The addition of four “Daily Drumbeat” meetings each day with employees has educated the entire team about the culture being implemented. Since asking employees to begin implementing two-second improvements, more than 2,000 improvements have been reported. – Kelly Goodsel, Viking Plastics • Kocelj began by implementing two-second lean with a team of eight senior managers, with the theory that if the management team couldn’t do it, they couldn’t teach it. Upon rollout of the concept to the entire company, he asked employees to create a video showing the “before” and “after” for improvements. In one year, 1,400 videos were created. – Nick Kocelj, Walters and Wolf • For two years, Glebe attempted to “push the train” to force employees into changing the culture of the company. An exposure to Akers’ videos allowed him to show people how to build culture, and the simplicity of the process triggered a modification of Toyota’s 5S process to a 3S system that influences the organization every day. – Greg Glebe, Xylem Industries Paul Akers has hosted a video roundtable with three of the four MAPP Conference presenters. It can be seen on YouTube by following the QR code.
Action Items for 2014 Gene Marks (www.genemarks.com)
Gene Marks is a daily columnist for the New York Times, Forbes, Inc.com and The Huffington Post, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC. Marks closed the MAPP Benchmarking Conference with a discussion about how changes in the economy will affect business and what actions need to be taken to prepare. Discussing trends in technology, management themes and healthcare reform, Marks provided action items that every executive in the audience should consider as ‘must dos’ in 2014. Among those items were the following: • Keep on top of the debt ceiling. There are six ways US debt and the deficit effect your business, according to Marks. These include higher taxes, higher inflation, higher interest rates, stock market reactions, a weak dollar and a contracting economy, which means less government spending. Marks encouraged conference attendees to watch CSPAN! • Have a cloud and mobile strategy. Understanding how the cloud works and how it affects your business will be critical in 2014. Google is looking for mobile-optimized websites and, if your site isn’t optimized, it will affect your search ranking placement. There are sites, including
howtogomo.com or dudamobile.com, that can help optimize your site. In addition, Marks noted that social media is making an impact in business prospecting, explaining that one of the hot new sites to watch is Google Hangouts on Air, which allows anyone to host and record live discussions over the internet. Marks also pointed to cloud-based CRM software as another indication that having a strategy for working within the cloud should be a priority. • Have dinner with your accountant. Capital gains, tax increases, dividends, itemized deductions ceilings, flexible spending accounts… these all are reasons to sit down with your accountant. Marks encouraged those in the audience to understand how the business tax climate will affect both 2013 and 2014 taxes. • Decide on healthcare. Take the time to review the impact of the Affordable Care Act on your business and your employees. Make a decision as to how your business will react to the changes that are in effect beginning January 1, 2014, and let your employees know quickly so they have time to make decisions of their own. n
Need another reason to PUSH PLAY? Follow the QR code for your inspiration. www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 19
Robotics in Plastics Processing How are robotics utilized in the plastics processing industry? Plastic processing companies, especially injection molders, are implementing robotics and downstream automation to increase productivity. This helps promote reduced cycle times, increased part quality and reduced costs. It can minimize operator risks from potentially dangerous and sometimes tedious tasks of removing parts from the machine, while also shifting manpower to jobs where those employees can add more value to the organization.
by Chris Parrillo Yushin America, Inc.
Chris Parrillo is national sales manager for Cranston, RI-based Yushin America, Inc. (YAI). The company offers a wide range of automation technology for the plastics industry, ranging from individual part-removal robots and end-of-arm-tooling to fully integrated factory automation for assembly, decoration, inspection and packaging. Yushin America stands behind its products with a comprehensive parts inventory, regional service and 24/7 phone support, 365 days a year. Yushin America is the largest subsidiary of Yushin Precision Equipment Co, Ltd. of Japan, one of the world’s foremost suppliers of robots for the injection molding industry. For more information, visit www.yushinamerica.com.
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Processors are using robotics to generate cost savings; they are converting semiautomatic cycles to fully automatic cycles to increase production. More consistent cycles reduce process variability and increase the quality of parts. Controlled part removal reduces damage to parts that free-fall from the mold and also reduces mold damage by detecting that all parts have been removed from the mold before letting it close. Robot sales to processors currently are at an all-time high, mainly because robots have become much more user-friendly. Today, shop floor personnel easily can set-up and program the robots. That has helped to reduce the cost of ownership over the past decade. These lower costs allow the smaller or mid-sized processors to take advantage of the automation wave. Everything from entry-level sprue pickers to separate runners from parts to completely automated flexible manufacturing cells are being installed by plastic processors.
What technology changes have been initiated as a result of the processing industry’s challenges? The growth of the medical industry and cleanroom molding has required robot manufacturers to rethink their approach to mechanical designs. Robot drives must be clean and contained so they do not generate any type of particulate contamination to the cleanroom’s work environment. This means sealed bearings and belt drives are a must. Portable, soft cleanrooms can create overhead obstruction for the robot, so a low-profile telescopic main arm also is required. Yushin recently has installed a new cleanroom factory in Kyoto, Japan for manufacturing and testing of its robots. The Yushin YCII servo robot can operate in an ISO class 5 cleanroom with slight modifications added. Short-run jobs are today’s norm for most injection molders. Robot controllers with simplified screens to reduce the number of icons an operator needs can speed changeovers, while also shortening the employee training cycle. Processors also want increased flexibility to help adjust with the multitude of future job types.
They are ordering robots with additional arms, EOAT (endof-arm tooling), quick change units and NC servo wrist flip units. The EOAT quick change allows a set-up technician to change an EOAT with the push of a button. All electrical and pneumatic connections then transfer over to the next EOAT. The NC servo wrist is a versatile unit that gives the processor the ability to articulate the EOAT and manipulate molded parts incrementally to any position required. This is very helpful for difficult part removal, precise insert molding and visual inspection of hard-to-see part areas.
What trends does Yushin see in the use of robotics? High-speed part extraction, especially in the packaging industry, is a popular trend today. Ultra high-speed extraction previously was achieved by fixed, dedicated side-entry-style robots. Today, versatile top-entry robots are able to achieve these same speeds. EOATs must have an optimized, lightweight mechanical design and vibration control technology to work
within tight mold openings with no vibration at the end of the robotâ€™s stroke. These robots can remove parts much faster than they can fall clear of the mold. Cavity segregation and improved part quality add additional value to the process. Recently, Yushin exhibited the HSA-150S robot at the K Show in Dusseldorf, Germany. It removed 16 parts from a mold in 0.27 seconds. Another trend is beside-the-press automation. Molders are being asked to add more value to the parts right at the press. Robots and downstream automation beside the machine make up a completely flexible manufacturing cell. The days of complicated automation are in the past; todayâ€™s manufacturing cells are extremely versatile and flexible. These manufacturing cells are being used for a wide variety of value-added processes, including decoration, degating, assembly, quality inspection (including visual inspection and dimensional gauging) and packaging into boxes, totes or trays to transport parts to an end user or another area of the factory. page 22 u
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focus t page 21
The Truth About Robotics: Impact of Robotics on Employment excerpt from a white paper by Seegrid
he state of robotics today has real-world applications, impacting employment, safety, quality, productivity, efficiency and competitiveness.
ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, defines an industrial robot as an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes. Leaders at Carnegie Mellon University have suggested that the field of robotics may be more practically defined as the study, design and use of robot systems for manufacturing. Typical applications of robots include transportation, welding, painting, assembly, picking and placing products, packaging and palletizing, product inspection and testing. All of these robotic tasks are accomplished with high endurance, speed and precision.
The scope and range of robots and usage will continue to grow and expand. Robots taking over the plant floor Most robots are designed to be a helping hand or a high-tech tool. They help with tasks that would be difficult, unsafe, boring or repetitive for a human to perform. The first industrial robots performed tasks that were “Hot, Heavy or Hazardous” – the three-H’s – performing tasks that were too difficult or too dangerous for people. Robots exhibit varying degrees of autonomous behavior; many robots are programmed to faithfully carry out specific repetitive actions without variation and with an extremely high degree of accuracy. These actions are determined by programmed routines that specify the direction, acceleration, velocity, deceleration and distance of a series of coordinated motions. Sometimes they mimic the motions of humans exactly, and other times they improve upon it, moving faster, more precisely or more smoothly than humans. Some industrial robots have increased flexibility regarding the positioning and orientation of the object on which they are operating, or even the overall task that has to be performed. Industrial robots often use precise guidance; many contain
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machine vision sub-systems linked to powerful computers or controllers. Artificial intelligence, which still is perceived as science fiction, actually is becoming an increasingly important factor in the modern-day, more adaptable industrial robot. Robots are used to assemble products, handle dangerous materials, weld metal, spray finishes, inspect parts, fabricate components, assist in operating rooms and even manage livestock. Robots are used for cutting and polishing as well as welding. The scope and range of robots and usage will continue to grow and expand. Accepting this truth is based on embracing inevitable change.
Histrionics versus history The cry of the fearful has been that robots will be job killers, taking away good jobs from people in need of work. Even today, robots frequently are vilified and considered the cause for causal to high unemployment rates. The historical data does not substantiate these claims. In fact, the historical trends reflect job shifts rather than job elimination. The events of 9/11 created an agency that employs 50,000 security officers, inspectors, directors, air marshals and managers who protect the nation’s transportation systems so people can travel safely. TSA.gov is a direct response to a historical event that created jobs for people to look for bombs at checkpoints in airports, inspect rail cars, patrol subways with law enforcement partners and work to make all modes of transportation safer. Similarly, prior to the development of the highway and railway system in the United States, the need for barns, blacksmiths and covered wagons was significant and employed many people. New technologies drive new job requirements and skills. The composition of the current workforce is changing rapidly due to the urgency and expectations that accompany these robotic technologies. In the 1970s and 80s when manufacturing started to shift from the USA to Japan, Japan employed ten times as many robots as the USA with nearly zero unemployment. The utilization of robots, information processing and automation raises productivity, making companies more competitive globally and increasing their opportunities to grow and employ more workers. Companies that do not increase productivity become less competitive and MUST shed jobs to protect the bottom line.
Will robots reduce the need for some warehouse workers and manufacturing plant floor employees? Yes, that is the truth. Will other jobs replace the functions assumed by robots? Yes, that also is the truth. Just as the requirements of the soldier of WWII were namely the ability to lift a certain weight and shoot a gun, today’s military personnel are highly trained, highly skilled and adept beyond the imagination of Brokaw’s, “Greatest Generation” of warriors and American heroes. Similarly, the factory or warehouse worker of tomorrow will not be needed for the ability to lift heavy packages, but for the ability to find the most efficient way to satisfy the customers’ needs.
Robots create more jobs The population in almost every developed nation is aging. People are living far beyond their retirement age. The multigenerational household is a thing of the past. This aging, retired, leisure-seeking population will need more services and support. Instead of working at repetitive jobs, people will be employed to support, interact with or care for the newly retired or elderly. Additionally, as productivity increases, there is more spending available for leisure activities such as travel, the arts and outdoor activities; these will all drive new opportunities in businesses we are not even thinking about yet. Who would have believed five years ago the thousands of jobs created by the concept of “social networking”? Other workers will be deployed to positions of greater efficiency, effectiveness and optimized productivity. The shift in workforce needs is part of American history and will continue because we live in a dynamic society and social structure. Robots are not the cause or blame for these workplace shifts. In fact, robotics has created an entire new work force dynamic. Although difficult to quantify, Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that robotic companies are employing more than one million Americans in the material handling, manufacturing and best-practice plant management industries. A study conducted by Metra Martech, a market research firm, concluded two to three million jobs created in the world of manufacturing were due to robotics. Furthermore, Metra Martech foresees 700,000 to 1 million new jobs to be created by robots in the next four years. According to Jerome A. Mark, in a paper prepared for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Studies indicate that the pace of technological change varies considerably by industry; affected workers are more likely to be transferred to new jobs. Technological change and its impact on the work force have become a focus of attention in the United States and abroad. The innovations include advanced communication systems,
industrial robots, flexible manufacturing systems, computerassisted design (CAD) and computer-assisted manufacturing (CAM). These modern technologies incorporate powerful and low-cost microelectronic devices that have the potential to increase productivity in office and factory production tasks. They share widespread appeal and are being diffused throughout the world. Some experts say that the pace of technological change is accelerating and that thousands of workers in plants and offices are affected as laborsaving innovations are diffused more widely. Some analysts assert that technological change is beneficial for all groups in our society, that the changes are more evolutionary than revolutionary in nature.” n Seegrid, Pittsburgh, PA, brings robotic vision-guided technology to the material handling industry. With more than 30 years of innovation and research by the leading robotic scientists, engineers, programmers and logistics practitioners worldwide, Seegrid’s exclusive Robotic Industrial Trucks are revolutionizing the movement of materials in manufacturing and distribution environments. For more information, visit www.seegrid.com.
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CLEANROOM CONSIDERATIONS The health care community is a significant consumer of plastic products and components. Products ranging from syringes and IV bags to medical grade tubing and implantable devices now rely on injection molders to meet demand.
by Ron Kosmalski Clean Air Technology, Inc.
Ron Kosmalski is sales manager for Clean Air Technology, Inc. Clean Air Technology, Inc. is a top design and build manufacturer and contractor for modular and portable cleanrooms. The company manufactures load-bearing wall and deck systems and application specific air handlers and filtration systems that are ideally suited for all controlled environments: cleanrooms, dryrooms and clean manufacturing facilities. Its fabrication capability allows for delivering site specific air cleanliness solutions. For more information, call 734.459.6320 or email email@example.com.
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Manufacturers hoping to enter that arena already may have mastered product quality and production efficiency targets, but frequently are challenged with another set of performance goalsâ€Ś meeting air cleanliness standards.
Understanding cleanroom classifications By definition, a cleanroom is a pre-defined room or area where the volume of particulates as small as 0.5 microns in size is reduced through filtration and air exchanges. Instrumentation is used to sample volumes of air within the environment to qualify clean classifications as defined by global ISO standards. Control of temperature, humidity and pressure are additional environmental parameters frequently measured within cleanrooms. The cleanliness classifications are well-documented and based on identification of six categories of sizes, ranging from sub-micron sized particles of 0.1 and up to 5 microns in size. A micron is one millionth of a meter. We are unable to see anything this small without the aid of microscopes, but if we could set particles that are one micron in size side-by-side, we would need 25,400 of them to span one inch. The cross section of a typical strand of hair is 35 to 40 microns in size, so when submicron-sized particles need to be controlled, High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filters are required. There are plenty of other acronyms used, but the point is: this is a special, clean environment. These lightweight particles easily are suspended and influenced by air currents. Particle counters with laser light beams are used to qualify the ISO-clean manufacturing environment by identification of the page 28 u
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solutions t page 26 quantity of particles present in a sampled volume of air. These are documented as the quantity found in a cubic meter of air within the environment. Designing a cleanroom to meet an ISO-8 level means enough air needs to be delivered through enough filters to reduce the particle count to 832,000 one-micron-sized particles in a cubic meter of air (a sample equivalent to approximately 35 cubic feet). Some plastic products can be terminally sterilized after manufacturing, but others are unable to withstand the sterilization methods effectively and must be produced in clean environments. Cleanrooms are not a substitute for sterilization, but they complement the process by reducing particulates that accumulate on the product or package surface. If the product that warrants the ISO-classified environment can be produced in its entirety within a single line or similarly confined area, a cleanroom envelope can be built around that line. If this is not practical due to the multiple processing
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requirements of a product, the feasibility of upgrading the entire production environment may need to be evaluated.
Designing a cleanroom Aside from the cost for the project, key considerations when planning a cleanroom are 1. cleanliness and environmental goals, 2. opportunities for effective air distribution and 3. supporting infrastructure.
1. Environmental goals
Unless defined by the end user or final product packager, the actual cleanroom classification selected by the manufacturer may be determined by the nature of the product, the manufacturing process itself and the potential for effective sterilization. At the minimum, molding production facilities designed and built today will meet an ISO-9 air cleanliness classification. Areas where specific molding operations take place frequently are designed to meet an ISO-8 or ISO-7 classification. If a particular material is adversely affected by sterilization procedures or if downstream assembly adds to the complexity, a more critical manufacturing environment meeting ISO-6 or ISO-5 cleanliness levels may be specified. Temperature and humidity levels within the manufacturing environment should be identified as part of the cleanroom design. Medical grade component manufacturers should be able to obtain qualification data from the end user and, once identified, the air system can be designed to meet the specific temperature, humidity and filtration goals.
2. Effective air distribution
Cleanrooms are defined areas where increased air exchanges and high-efficiency filters combine to reduce airborne contamination within the designated space. Dedicated air handling systems and HEPA filtration components are used for this purpose. The nature of molding operations combines electrical, pneumatic and mechanical functions that generate particulates and turbulence. The cleanroom or designated clean area should be designed to bathe the product and process in HEPA-filtered airflow and to reduce the opportunities for turbulence. Effective removal of the particle-laden air steam is equally as important as directing the airflow onto the critical zone. This can be accomplished by utilizing low-wall air return ducts page 30 u
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New construction simplifies planning for the cleanroom. A reduced environmental envelope can be considered if planning a new facility, and a favorable location for the cleanroom can be chosen to take advantage of the proximity to the building’s mechanical and/or electrical rooms and platforms. adjacent to the injection molding machine. Making provisions for the specially conditioned clean airflow to find a route away from the critical zone will help minimize the time these lightweight contaminants will be exposed to the product. This “conditioned” air can be returned to the cleanroom air handler for efficient operation. The physical dynamics of the recirculating air system need to be considered, along with the support utilities and material handling requirements of the process line. An air return plenum is a key design element in building an effective recirculating airflow system. The plenum is a doublesided space that can be sealed to serve as a duct or airway within the room or space adjacent to the clean zone. In existing facilities, adding/building plenums above and near the process line may be too complicated to achieve. Injection molding lines require numerous utility/service connections for electrical, chilled water supply/return, compressed air, etc. These frequently are routed through the facility and then dropped vertically to the molding machine. In addition, overhead cranes frequently traverse the manufacturing floor, compounding the issues in determining a layout for the ideal air distribution network. Depending on the logistics, it may be impractical to locate an air return plenum above, below or around this collection of service utilities and equipment, so dedicated low-wall air return ducts need to be routed throughout the space.
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All of these factors need to be addressed when developing the floor plan for an injection molding facility.
3. Supporting infrastructure
New construction simplifies planning for the cleanroom. A reduced environmental envelope can be considered if planning a new facility, and a favorable location for the cleanroom can be chosen to take advantage of the proximity to the building’s mechanical and/or electrical rooms and platforms. Process equipment layout can be orientated to enable the use of portable cranes and hoists for die changes and other service requirements, and utility distribution can be routed to enable space for the air supply and return system ductwork. The area for the clean operations should be away from material handling and high traffic aisles and also away from doors that frequently are opening to the outside. Cleanrooms should be located where a level, cured floor can receive a high-quality sealer and coating to ensure the surface cannot degrade and contribute particulates to the environment. Existing facilities with molding operations rarely afford space for optimal air flow and distribution. Portable air projectors or scrubbers can be added to improve the air quality by reducing the particulate concentrations of the air near specific machines or operations, and emphasis must be placed on cleaning and turbulence. Machine surfaces near the platens should be cleaned, and utility lines with related fittings, gages and support members should be cleaned and maintained. Material handling equipment and personnel activities adjacent to the molding operation should be minimized or altered where possible to reduce disruptive air flow patterns nearby, and the floor should be effectively sealed.
Planning a cleanroom Is extra cooling needed? Is humidity control a factor? How clean do we need to be? What level of gowning will be sufficient? How can we get from where we are to where we need to be? The answers to those questions can help you proceed down the right path. Find the answers by doing your research, asking your customer and contacting industry experts for their insights and recommendations. You may be able to consider something as simple as a portable softwall cleanroom or air projector, or you may need something as complex as a dedicated multi-suite
manufacturing environment with independent temperature, humidity and pressurization controls. When in doubt, lay it out. Just like measuring furniture or appliances when renovating a room in our house, making a floor plan is the best start for any cleanroom project. The first priority always is safety. Ensure there are adequate paths or provisions for personnel egress if they need to make an emergency exit. Ensure there is adequate room for personnel to perform the loading, staging, retrieval and cartage of materials or other process-driven functions that require human interface.
Include additional space adjacent to the cleanroom for the air handling system, and designate additional space for housekeeping supplies or potential gown-up/staging requirements. Finally, enlist the services of a qualified and experienced cleanroom design/fabricator. Every sheet metal and air conditioning contractor will convince you that they can make this work, but due to the complexities involved, rely on the expertise of the companies that do this for a living. Work with a company that has fabrication capabilities to help make your investment a success from the start. n
Then, add the support services that make the production process possible. Determine the route for utilities, cranes or other lifting mechanisms, material carts, totes and relevant transfer components. Consider options that can enable a clear path for air supply and return requirements.
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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 31
Three plastics processing It’s a way to stock fish in the pond. companies explain why they have It’s the artillery fire before the infantrymen storm the enemy. dedicated staff and resources to In the injection molding industry, it can be the elephant in the room. the marketing function. Marketing. by Dianna Brodine Why expend resources on marketing?
Dan Cunningham, president of Parish Manufacturing, understands the necessity of a strong marketing campaign. As a matter of fact, when he joined Parish Manufacturing, he insisted upon it. “My first career was in the US army,” he explained. “I was a field artilleryman. I compare the employment of field artillery to marketing, whereas the tanks and the infantrymen are the sales force. They’re the ones that engage with the enemy (in business, salesmen engage with customers!). But, the purpose of the field artillery is to soften the target before the infantry and the tanks go in. If the artillery does its job well, it makes life a lot easier – and longer! – for the infantrymen.” Cunningham explained that Parish Manufacturing had been trying to accelerate its growth for a number of years. The company was growing, but not nearly at the rate that it could or should. “One of the chief constraints was getting known,” he said. “We’ve been around since 1960, but we still kept running into people who just didn’t know about us. This was true even in some of the markets we’d been in for years, and it certainly was true in the markets we were trying to penetrate.” While Parish Manufacturing had done regular trade show exhibiting, the company felt the shows were becoming less effective because the audience was too general. With a desire to drill down more specifically into certain markets, Cunningham and another employee began to do basic marketing assessments on their own. “We were only slightly successful,” he explained, “and the main reason was a lack of time to dedicate to do it right. Marketing provides the overarching awareness that softens a prospective customer for when the salesperson goes in, and we didn’t have the correct resources available to know who we were supposed to ‘soften up’!”
32 | plastics business • fall 2013
page 34 u
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strategies t page 32
“… the job of marketing is to put the fish in the pond, and the job of sales is to take them out. Effective marketing prepares prospects so they’re ready for the sales staff to go in and secure new contracts.”
marketing personnel and utilizing external marketing resources.
At Thogus, a marketing intern proved her worth and became a full-time employee who now leads the marketing efforts for four companies related to Thogus. Prior to the arrival of intern Dana Foster, Thogus had been using a PR firm to design and direct its marketing campaigns. “Someone outside the industry doesn’t get the opportunity to learn –David Chabukashvili our business from the ground up,” explained Hlavin. “By hiring a marketing person to our staff, she was able to learn our business by shadowing several positions, which gave her an understanding Erin Hlavin, human capital manager for four companies related of how to promote our culture and talk about our company. An to Thogus Products Company, agreed that the manufacturing industry is not known for its strength in the world of marketing. outside PR firm never has that opportunity.” “Unless you are a large, national company with a marketing department, the typical marketing plan includes a website and Foster interned with Thogus for one summer while still attending college. She spent three months learning about the some brochures to pass out on sales calls,” she said. business and at the end of the summer, worked part-time while When Thogus President and CEO Matt Hlavin wanted to finishing her degree. Upon graduation, Foster became a fullcreate a sales plan to ‘own the backyard,’ Erin Hlavin knew time employee and spent the first six months of her new career marketing needed to be a large part of the focus in developing learning program management. “She learned from other Thogus in the Northeast Ohio area. “We recognized the need program managers to handle a new program when it came in,” to stay on top of molding and engineering technologies to explained Hlavin, “and then, as she cut her teeth, she started remain ahead of our competition, but we also needed to be taking on clients and projects of her own. She was involved ahead of the curve on the marketing side,” she said. Thogus in sales and engineering meetings and completed a two-day recognized that top-flight technologies weren’t a sure path to Beaumont training session. She learned what she needed to market dominance if potential customers didn’t know Thogus communicate, and then it was her job to figure out how to communicate that to our customers and prospects.” has the ability to execute and apply them. Royer Corporation acknowledged a similar strategy. “We like to be very aggressive in reaching out to potential buyers and promoting our products,” said David Chabukashvili, executive vice president of operations and marketing. “We have three full-time sales people, but our marketing efforts are the first step. Roger Williams, Royer’s president and CEO, tells us the job of marketing is to put the fish in the pond, and the job of sales is to take them out. Effective marketing prepares prospects so they’re ready for the sales staff to go in and secure new contracts.”
Internal, external or both?
Few plastics processing companies have the ability to staff a full on-site marketing department. Thogus, Royer Corporation and Parish Manufacturing all have taken different approaches in staffing the marketing function, including hiring dedicated
34 | plastics business • fall 2013
At Royer Corporation, one person oversees the marketing function while another is dedicated full-time to keeping the vision on track. David Chabukashvili spent five years as the plant manager before veering into marketing, and he now acts as the executive vice president overseeing both operations and marketing. The marriage of the meat of the facility – operations – with the dessert – marketing – makes sense. “Because I see the day-to-day operational issues, I’m better able to direct the focus of our marketing plans,” said Chabukashvili. However, a full-time director of marketing is responsible for fulfilling that focus. Cunningham implemented a similar strategy at Parish Manufacturing, pairing an internal staff member with an outside marketing firm to provide both the high-level plant view of what is needed and the personnel to get the job done.
“Parish developed a staff person to manage both the sales and marketing areas, but we’re still too small to be able to have two people there,” he explained. “It very quickly became evident that we needed more help. That was when we determined the logical thing to do was hire a marketing firm to assist us.” Parish hired Strategic Marketing Partners (SMP), a firm with extensive experience in the manufacturing industry. “We knew that directing sales and directing a good marketing effort was too much work for one person,” said Cunningham. “It’s more cost-effective for me to hire the expertise I’m getting in SMP. The company was able to step right in and very quickly become productive as a professional support organization to Parish Manufacturing.”
Plans of action
“Once SMP was on board, we started at square one with the classic textbook SWOT analysis,” Cunningham explained. “There’s a reason it’s a standby – that’s what works!” The assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats helped to discern specific directions in which to move in
manufacturing, sales and marketing. The marketing company also conducted customer surveys, the results of which were compared to the SWOT analysis. “It was an interesting comparison,” he said. “Our customers thought we had some problems more severe than what we thought, and they thought we had strengths greater than what we thought. It told us what we needed to focus on!” Once a direction was identified, Parish began the work to update the company’s look for those customers and prospects that had been around for many years, while also addressing its lack of visibility in the new markets the company wanted to enter. “About 15 years ago we had changed our logo, and one of the things I had determined in the beginning of our newest marketing efforts was that we were not going to scrap our logo… because then nobody would know us! Instead, we’re transtioning our logo from Parish Manufacturing Incorporated with a stylized bag and box graphic to a stylized bag and box graphic with just the name Parish,” Cunningham explained. “We are making a gradual change so people in the marketplace don’t lose track of us.” page 36 u
www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 35
strategies t page 35 In addition, a new tag line was created that speaks to how Parish wants people to think of the company and identifies the company as more in tune with today’s packaging markets. A new website also was a priority, as the old site was dated and did not incorporate SEO optimization. “We worked very diligently with SMP, and they guided us designing a new website,” he said. “That was three years ago, and this month, another new website will go live because of what we’ve learned over the last three years. Marketing is a journey – not a one-time project!” Parish utilizes targeted sales collateral to drive people to the website. These targeted mailing pieces are sent to specific prospective customers in certain markets and are tailored with information that relates only to that prospective market. “Everything we do in sales collateral is specific and tailored to either a customer or a very narrow target audience,” Cunningham explained. Royer Corporation also has recently undergone a website revamp. “The new site has been live for only two weeks,” said Chabukashvili. “We wanted to rebrand the website, so we could talk about our products and the advantage of our products over our competitors.” Tom Seaver, the newly hired director of marketing for Royer, explained: “The evolution of technology over the past several years has made a huge impact in the business world. Nowadays, when a prospect hears a business name and wants further information, it almost is guaranteed that they will hop on their laptop, tablet or smartphone and search for a website. In a matter of minutes, consumers can be directly connected to businesses. We wanted to give our website a complete overhaul because there is an abundance of value in the way a company portrays itself online.” The website plays a key role in another marketing strategy for Royer, as the company uses sales generation software to send targeted email blasts for the purposes of lead generation. Sent every two weeks, the emails provide information on capabilities, products and technologies, with live links that drive customers and prospects to the Royer website to find additional information. One of Seaver’s jobs is to keep the site constantly updated. In addition, Chabukashvili said social media will take on a larger role. “Social media is going to be very important for us, as well as other internet strategies like Google Ad Words,” he said.
36 | plastics business • fall 2013
Thanks to Foster, Thogus already is ahead of the game when it comes to social media. Since 2011, her marketing strategy has included a combination of platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, with clear focuses for each platform. “Facebook is used to display the Thogus culture as it relates to our brand,” Foster explained. “Photos show what is going on at Thogus, whether a student tour, our employees at work or events. The Thogus Twitter account is used to help promote our customers, as well as foster relationships with other people in the manufacturing sector.” The LinkedIn company page and employee posts may provide the greatest return, as LinkedIn has proven to be the driving force behind traffic to the Thogus website.
What are the results?
Injection molding is a bottom line business, and marketing – like any other expenditure – must prove its worth. Yet, marketing’s worth can be elusive and rarely can be pinned down to one set of metrics or numbers on a spreadsheet. At Thogus, success can be measured through rapid growth on all social media fronts for the four Thogus companies. In just the past two months, the number of ‘likes’ to the Thogus page has grown 30 percent. Since 2011, the number of Twitter followers has grown over 1200 percent. While friends and followers don’t translate into direct sales, one particular relationship with a manufacturing expert developed via Twitter has led to an upcoming feature on Thogus in his upcoming book about manufacturing. That’s a marketing return that will continue to pay dividends in exposure to potential customers. At Parish Manufacturing, the bottom line results are easy to see. “There were three reasons we decided to focus on marketing,” explained Cunningham. “First, we wanted a better understanding of the market and how Parish fits into it. We needed to understand what our customers want and how that aligns with what we do well. The second reason was to rebrand the company and make the market aware of us, because outside of the dairy industry, virtually no one knew of Parish. The third reason was to help us generate leads and increase sales.” Cunningham reported an average annual revenue growth rate over the last three years in excess of 21 percent. “Eighty percent of that is in markets that we had specifically targeted for growth,” he said. “To us, that’s quite the return on our investment.” n
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Conair Develops Polymer Drying Control
RJG Opens Southeast Regional Training Center
The new DC-T TouchView™ control from The Conair Group, Cranberry Township, PA, provides an easyto-use interface for monitoring and controlling the entire polymer drying process. It features an 8”-diagonal graphical touchscreen interface that shows current and historical temperature data and includes precise dew-point control. It also provides a gateway for control of multi-hopper central drying cells, like the ResinWorks system, which combines multiple hoppers with integral air manifolds, ducting and wiring on a sturdy platform for simplified shipping, installation and operation. Up to 15 hoppers equipped with Conair temperature controls can be linked to the DC-T for monitoring and duplicate control. For more information, call 724.584.5500 or visit www.conairgroup.com.
RJG, Inc., a provider of training and technology for the injection molding industry, has opened a new office and training center at an 8,000 sq.ft. facility just north of Atlanta in Woodstock, GA. It eventually will house seven molding machines and a classroom that will hold up to 24 students. The training center mirrors the facility at RJG headquarters in Traverse City, MI. In addition to the training center, RJG established a regional office to provide direct sales and local support to quickly respond to customers’ needs. The RJG Southeast Team consists of John Knipp, regional manager; Jason Robinson, trainer/ consultant; and Nina Schultz, account coordinator. A lab manager soon will be added. The first training session at the facility will be a Systematic Molding class on Dec. 10-12. For more information, call 231.947.3111 or visit www.rjginc.com.
Smaller Maguire Vacuum Dryer Provides Real-Time Measurement, Control Maguire Products, Inc., Aston, PA, has developed a newly-designed vacuum resin dryer model based on a much larger version that was introduced in March. The Maguire® VBD™ 150 dryer provides trouble-free operation and dries six times faster than desiccant systems. The VBD 150 saves energy with throughput, depending on the material being dried, of up to 196lb per hour. It is sized for the throughputs of many injection molding machines, as well as small extrusion lines for products such as medical tubing. It also includes load cells whose value became prominent after the initial installations of the larger model: the capability for real-time monitoring, control and documentation of material consumption. The availability of real-time consumption data provides the opportunity to certify processing conditions – a capability that is important for serving medical markets. For more information, call 610.459.4300 or visit www.maguire.com.
38 | plastics business • fall 2013
Comdec Pad Printer Designed with Modular Functionality The SMI 35 pad printer from Comdec Incorporated, Newburyport, MA, is a highspeed, easy-to-use modular system. It is a tabletop model with a small footprint capable of being used in the tightest of spaces and is suitable for promotional products and fully automated systems. It is PLC-controlled and requires no clamping or special tools. The versatile machine easily is upgraded for automation and is compatible with accessories such as automatic tape systems, 2-color attachments and rotary table indexing. For more information, call 800.445.9176 or visit www.comdecinc.com.
3M Develops Low-Odor Acrylic Adhesive St. Paul, MN-based 3M has introduced 3M™ Scotch-Weld™ Low-Odor Acrylic Adhesives DP8805NS and DP8810NS. These next-generation structural acrylic adhesives provide dramatic improvements over conventional high-odor acrylics, with significant benefits in productivity, performance and cost savings, as well as health and safety concerns. Conventional acrylic adhesives typically raise inconvenient issues with odor, set times, impact resistance and storage requirements, but the new adhesives are designed to solve these challenges while also enhancing performance and productivity. 3M’s Scotch-Weld offers an incredibly fast cure rate, reaching structural strength in about nine minutes – just half the time of ordinary acrylic adhesives. 3M acrylic adhesives also have higher impact resistance on plastics and metals. The new adhesives additionally provide excellent shear and peel performance and improved adhesion to many plastics and metals, expanding the range of applications for which acrylic adhesives can be used. For more information, call 800.362.3550 or visit www.3M.com/StructuralAcrylics.
Patent Issued for Polyfil’s Ecocell Technology Polyfil Corporation, a Rockaway, NJ-based manufacturer of functional additive concentrates to the polyolefin market, has been issued a patent for its Ecocell® technology. The inventor is Renee Lapierre, technology manager of foams for the company. The Ecocell technology infuses nano-sized particles of an additive into a polymer during processing and releases CO2 when heated above 393 degrees Fahrenheit. This reduces the weight of the part up to 40 percent. It also increases throughput and reduces energy consumption. In injection molding, it reduces molded-in stresses and reduces cooling times. Because of the very small cell size it produces, smoother surfaces on finished products are achievable in both injection molding and extrusion processes when compared to products manufactured with ordinary endothermic CFAs. As a result, Polyfil successfully has targeted applications where traditional foaming agents fell short with larger cells, rough surfaces and extremely diminished physical properties. For more information, call 973.627.4070 or visit www.polyfilcorp.com. n
www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 39
The View from 30 Feet:
Business Networking on LinkedIn by Matt Hlavin, Thogus
Business gurus often talk about the view from 30,000 feet – the big picture that provides a look at overall operations. Perhaps, however, the focus should be on the view from 30 feet – a close-up of specific processes and procedures that make an impact now. LinkedIn is a business-focused social networking site with a primary purpose of helping users network professionally. The number of people utilizing LinkedIn today has grown significantly over the past year – now at more than 259 million users. By optimizing this resource and the tools and features it has to offer to the fullest extent, I have found great success.
LinkedIn is not only about professionals looking to build their network and advance careers. There is so much more to gain. I use LinkedIn to stay updated on current trends and news in the industry. Staying updated on this information is very pertinent in today’s economy as you never know if this will give you further insight into a new opportunity and open more doors for your business. Another way I currently use LinkedIn is by joining groups. Within groups, users not only are able to post articles, but also can create discussions and polls for insight and perspectives on economics and behaviors in the marketplace. Clients also want to work with people who are excellent at what they do. Those who have a passion for and knowledge of their industry – and share that via a site like LinkedIn – often have an edge over competitors that are not as visible. To get the most out of LinkedIn you need to be strategic in how you use it. LinkedIn is a great prospecting and research tool, whether it is to research companies or people. You can gain an abundant amount of information from users’ LinkedIn profile pages or company pages. This provides you with data you may be looking for prior to walking into a sales meeting or a conference.
40 | plastics business • fall 2013
Companies also are increasingly using LinkedIn as a recruitment tool. Jobs can be posted within particular groups, and individuals can be approached if they display characteristics that may be useful for filling the position. We have implemented LinkedIn at Thogus, rp+m and JALEX Medical as a method for finding the right candidates for open positions. While there is no right or wrong way out there for how LinkedIn should be used, it is a good start to help you expand your network. LinkedIn provides a transparent way for you to see how people are connected to one another so that you can build strong relationships with clients, suppliers and partners. Overall, LinkedIn has allowed Thogus to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and create more brand awareness by specifically targeting our audience. I have used it to build my own network of professional relationships so I can keep an eye on the trends that affect my company. n
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In-Mold Label Market Study Assesses Industry A
AWA Global In-Mold Label Market Study 2013 focuses on materials, conversion technologies, application methods and end uses for in-mold labeling technologies and on the markets and market trends. Market sizes and forecasts refer to global and regional production and supplyside output. AWA Alexander Watson Associates is a company with a unique industry focus on the specialty paper, film, packaging, coating and converting sector. AWA provides a complement of market research, events, business development and advisory services. Reports containing actionable and relevant information, in-depth opportunity and market assessments and strategic market insight. The study can be ordered online at http://www.awa-bv.com. 2% 5% 18%
WA’s Global In-Mold Label Market Study 2013 is the third assessment conducted by Alexander Watson Associates of the current status of one of the world’s developing labeling technologies.
In-mold labels are used in a diverse range of FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) and industrial packaging. This report details the market structure, market volumes and trends, materials, technologies and growth forecasts for this niché labeling format. With reference to in-mold label technologies in 2012 – the period covered by the statistics in this report – trends in the general use of labels showed a consolidation of the market volumes following the uncertainties of 2011. These uncertainties were more evident in the developed economies than in emerging economies and are reflected in actual and forecasted levels of GDP growth. Growth in GDP is a prime indicator of the potential for growth in any given label market. Sovereign debt levels in Europe, coupled with austerity programs in the region’s leading economies, continue to impact GDP growth and this is evident in the relatively low growth of the packaging and labeling markets when compared with other regions. This continuing lack of confidence among European consumers as a result of the macro-economic positions across Europe is reflected in a low actual and forecasted rate of growth for all label formats and technologies. The North American label markets continue to show higher levels of buoyancy than for Europe. But, softening label markets in the final quarter of 2012 and overall growth rates generally in line with GDP are indicative of a mature market with slowing potential. The historical growth of Asian and South American economies has been a feature of the 21st century. This economic growth has, to a degree, been a driver for high levels of growth in the respective label markets. However, these economies also page 45 u 7%
4% 4% 10% 19%
Pressure-sensitive Sleeving Others
Glue Applied In-Mold
Exhibit 2.3: World Market Shares by Labeling Technology, 2012
42 | plastics business • fall 2013
Europe Asia Pacific Africa & Middle East
North America South America
Exhibit 2.4: Regional Demand for In-Mold Labels - 2012
Food Health & Personal Care Industrial Chemicals
Beverage Household Chemicals
Exhibit 2.6: End-use Markets for In-Mold Labels 2012
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t page 42
950 3% 900
The market shares enjoyed by in-mold labels on global and regional levels are consistent with those of a niché label format. The market for in-mold labels presents a mixed picture with regards to the technologies used and the regional potential for each technology. However, the growth in in-mold labels compares well with that of competitor technologies where growth is lower and, in some cases, where actual volume declines are noted.
850 800 750
2% 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Mln Sqm
Exhibit 2.9: Forecast Global In-Mold Label Volume Growth, 2011 – 2017 are impacted by the reduced trade-related effects of the economic and financial turbulence emanating from the developed nations. In certain countries, on-going economic growth is supported by more market-orientated structural reforms and a higher focus on private, domestic consumption.
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Overall, the future prospects for the volume development of in-mold labeling technologies remain mixed. The relative stagnation of IML-EB in North America and Europe, the maturity of IML-IM in Europe coupled with the slow but accelerating growth of the format in North America influence the overall global growth rates. However, there are opportunities for both formats in emerging economies such as Russia, Middle East and Asia. n
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www.plasticsbusinessmag.com | 45
Amco Polymers........................................................................................................www.amcopolymers.com .............................................................................................. 45 ASACLEAN/Sun Plastech Inc. ...............................................................................www.asaclean.com ..............................................................................Inside Front Cover Beaumont Technologies, Inc. ..................................................................................www.beaumontinc.com ................................................................................................. 37 Chase Plastics...........................................................................................................www.chaseplastics.com ................................................................................................... 7 Chem-Trend .............................................................................................................www.chemtrend.com ............................................................................................... 24, 25 Conair.......................................................................................................................www.conairgroup.com .................................................................................... Back Cover CPT ..........................................................................................................................www.cinprotech.com ..................................................................................................... 43 Federated Insurance .................................................................................................www.federatedinsurance.com ........................................................................................ 43 Frigel ........................................................................................................................www.frigel.com/na ........................................................................................................ 23 Harbour Results, Inc. ...............................................................................................www.harbourresults.com ............................................................................................... 15 Ice Miller LLP..........................................................................................................www.icemiller.com ........................................................................................................ 13 INCOE Corporation .................................................................................................www.incoe.com ............................................................................................................... 5 IQMS........................................................................................................................www.iqms.com ................................................................................................................ 3 Jade Group International ..........................................................................................www.jademolds.com............................................................................ Inside Back Cover M. Holland ...............................................................................................................www.mholland.com ....................................................................................................... 35 MAPP (Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors) ...................................www.mappinc.com ........................................................................................................ 46 Paulson Training Programs, Inc...............................................................................www.paulsontraining.com ............................................................................................. 31 PLASTEC West .......................................................................................................www.PLASTECwest.com ............................................................................................. 44 RJG, Inc. ..................................................................................................................www.rjginc.com............................................................................................................. 33 SIGMA Plastics Services, Inc. .................................................................................www.3dsigma.com ........................................................................................................ 29 Slide Products, Inc. ..................................................................................................www.slideproducts.com................................................................................................. 28 Stout Risius Ross (SRR) ..........................................................................................www.srr.com .................................................................................................................. 10 Strategic Marketing Partners (SMP) ........................................................................www.smp4mfg.com ....................................................................................................... 10 ToolingDocs ............................................................................................................www.toolingdocs.com ................................................................................................... 27 Ultra Purge/Moulds Plus International ....................................................................www.ultrapurge.com...................................................................................................... 41 Yushin America, Inc. ...............................................................................................www.yushinamerica.com............................................................................................... 21
46 | plastics business â€˘ fall 2013
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